Help Portrait: Take Portraits & Give Them, Too!

Superheroes were never paid for their humanitarian efforts. Come to think of it, they kinda just did all their do-goodin’ for free!

Maybe it’s because there’s something intrinsically awesome about helping others. It just makes you feel good.

On December 10th, you can take part in Help Portrait by giving a portrait to someone in need!

With the forthcoming Christmas tree installations and mall traffic, give a portrait to restore dignity, bring smiles and even remind people, many of whom have forgotten, how beautiful they are.

How to Give a Portrait to Someone in Need

Photo: Dallas, TX Help Portrait

Why Help?

ingred-smGiving portraits, not just taking them. That’s the mantra behind a project like this.

The holidays can be a tough time for a lot people, especially those who don’t have family or are having financial hardship.

Giving someone a portrait reminds them that they matter, too!

The Help Portrait movement had its official beginning on December 12, 2009 when more than 3,400 photographers in 543 locations across 42 countries gave over 42,000 beautiful portraits to beautiful people… talk about a Justice League.

Step 1: Find Someone in Need

ingred-smReach out to the lonely, the sick, the troubled. Visit a nursing home, a hospital, boys and girls club, or a community center.

If you shoot on location, you’ll want to get permission and coordinate the event with the director or person who runs the facility.

(Don’t assume you can wander into the local nursing home with your lights and cameras.)

ingred-smFor a bigger event, set up shop at a local church, community center or warehouse. Hang up flyers and call around to local non-profits, mentoring programs or groups that serve the less fortunate and let them know what’s happening.

In the past, photographers have even rallied make-up artists and stylists!

Step 2: Take Their Portrait

ingred-smIt doesn’t matter if you’ve been shooting for a month or 20 years, you can use your camera to bring people together for fun and even some inner healing.

Here are some tips if this is your first time shooting portraits!

  1. Smile… if you do, they’re likely too as well.
  2. Start fresh… Don’t shoot with the settings you were using last week. Find the optimum ISO, aperture and shutter speed for today.
  3. You can use any lens, but a good fast lens (f1.8 – f2.8) opened up will make for some beautiful bokeh (blurry backgroud).
  4. Try shooting with a lens that has a focal length of 50mm or up for portraits. Wide angle lenses can distort people’s faces if you get too close!
  5. Light! Make sure you have enough of it. If you are shooting indoors, you’ll probably want to have some kind of diffused, off-camera flash or set up near a window for pretty side light.

If you’re not ready to be the main shooter, Help Portrait can pair you with a photographer who is.

You’ll learn a whole bunch about lighting, exposure and composition and be able focus on the needs of your subjects.

Step 3: Print Their Portrait

paper-smYou have two options for printing:

1. Think about having on-site printers and photo paper so you can grant your portrait subjects instant photo happiness!

Borrow the family photo printer for the day, or you might also have some luck getting a local business to donate or loan a printer.

2. The other option is to collect contact information from those having portraits made and to print the photos at a local lab after the event.

Step 4: Give The Portrait

paper-smBe sure to relish the moment when you hand over the portrait to your new friend.

Remind them of how amazing they look and what a privilege it was to shoot them. That personal connection is the best part of the whole experience!

We’ve heard tales of masked photographers in brightly colored spandex suits going as far as giving a CD of the images or even framing the photos!!

More Inspiration

  • Check out the main Help Portrait page for organizing your own event and see their Community page for getting in touch with fellow photographers.
  • Get inspired with this video all about the heart of Help Portrait. It doesn’t have to happen one day a year but can be ongoing!

David Braud is a photographer in Franklin, TN. He’s heading up Franklin’s Help-Portrait event this year.

Photos: David Braud & Help Portrait